William Kamkwamba to inspire Malawi youth at Science Expo

Malawi’s trail-blazing young inventor William Kamkwamba will be one of the key-note speakers at the end of a week-long Africa Science Week targeting student scientists and innovators taking place in Lilongwe.

William Kamkwamba; The Malawi windmill man

Announcing the news, Program Manager for the event organiser mHub, Eve Kasambara said the choice of Kamkwamba—famous for inventing a windmill that earned him book rights and university scholarships—aims to inspire the upcoming student innovators.

“He (Kamkwamba) is a global icon of cause-related innovation and science. He invented a windmill to generate electricity in his village, which like most areas of the country, have no access to the national electricity grid through Escom. This is the kind of science and innovation we are all looking forward to. The best science and technology is the one that responds to local challenges such as youth unemployment, health care, agriculture, and energy. Science and technology must provide real-life solutions to community and it is our hope that the students will emulate Kamkwamba’s example,” she said.

For his part, Kamkwamba said; “I am looking forward to the talk and I hope to inspire young people to become innovators like me.”

In 2006, Kamkwamba earned international recognition for inventing a windmill that supplied electricity in his home village in Kasungu. The invention is the subject of his autobiography; “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” and an award-winning documentary film “William and the Windmill”.

Kamkwamba has also made several distinguished appearances as a Guest Speaker. He graduated from Dartmouth University with a degree in Engineering in 2014.

Kasambara said harnessing science and innovation amongst the youth holds key to unlocking economic development challenges that Malawi faces.

The science week  has attracted students from Bwaila, Mkwichi and Likuni Boys Secondary and youth from the nearby community of Mtandire.

Other activities during the week include tech discovery for kids interested in developmg games using scratch and coding mobile apps, hardware programming and digital media skills for women. The events will culminate into a Science Expo where over 20 interactive science and technology projects will be exhibited to local business, corporations and community.

AIMS President and NEF Chair Thierry Zomahoun said the week-long event will demonstrate the critical impact of science to the general public.

 “By bringing together key stakeholders from all sectors, we hope to catalyse investment in research and development and discuss best practices for attracting and retaining young people, especially girls and women, in the sciences,” he said.

Looking to the future, the NEF will expand the reach of its Africa Science Week to 30 countries in 2018 and all 54 by 2020. Beyond numbers, the NEF hopes that Africa Science Week will grow to include major activities in schools and universities, and result in concrete collaboration between the research community and private sector.

In line with the NEF’sDakar Declaration, issued at the first biennial NEF Global Gathering, held in in Dakar, Senegal in March 2016, Africa Science Week will place public engagement at the heart of advancing Africa’s scientific agenda. The next edition of the NEF Global Gathering will be held in Kigali in March 2018 under the patronage of H.E. Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda.

Africa Science Week is funded by Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Google and local sponsors in the each country.

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